PC Specialist Apollo Q8200 GTX+ review

£919
Price when reviewed

The arrival of a new PC Specialist Apollo in the PC Pro labs is a well-rehearsed event – the price usually remains in the same ball park as its predecessor, but performance always receives a healthy boost.

PC Specialist Apollo Q8200 GTX+ review

The company is certainly on to a winning formula with its build quality and competitive pricing, and manages to consistently avoid rocking the boat while regularly giving its engine a tune-up.

This is the latest iteration in the product line, the Apollo Q8200 GTX+. At first glance, nothing has changed: the case is one we’ve seen several times before, a PC Specialist staple, and for good reason. It’s sturdily constructed from black aluminium, with clean, simple lines interrupted only on the front swing-open door, which is spruced up with three silver circles radiating blue light. The door serves the dual purpose of keeping the front of the case uncluttered, and placing a thick expanse of material between the noisy interior and the user. The Apollo is far from quiet, but the door certainly helps to keep noise within tolerable limits.

As far as peripherals go, there are no big surprises. The Logitech keyboard and mouse bundle, common on PCs from many makers, are perfectly usable, but not the best quality. Gamers, in particular, may want to change them reasonably soon for something more robust. Similarly, the 2.1 speakers, also from Logitech, are perfectly usable for most tasks and loud enough to fill a small room, but are not the best for movies and games.

The rest of the visible gadgetry is also familiar. A 24in LG W2452T monitor is the same as that shipped with the PC Specialist Fusion HD 9950. Thanks to its 1,920 x 1,200 resolution it can handle 1080p HD video, and gives acres of desktop space, enough to have several documents on screen at once. Colour reproduction and brightness are both very good, but the viewing angle could admittedly be wider, so it’s not ideal for watching films on in a group. Gamers will be satisfied, though, and not just because of the screen’s fast 5ms response time.

With an Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+ graphics card on board handling 3D, plus 4GB of RAM and a powerful Intel Q8200 quad-core chip for everything else, the machine manages to come within six frames per second of the magical 100 milestone in our Crysis benchmark at low settings. It even remains playable at 34 frames per second under our most demanding test. With results like this, even the latest games will prove no problem at all for the Apollo Q8200 GTX+.

With this kind of power, it’s not surprising that this PC scored a healthy 1.40 in our 2D benchmarks. This may be slightly lower than the 1.45 scored by the Apollo Q9450 GTX we reviewed earlier this year, but it’s also £200 cheaper this time around.

Sound performance isn’t the Apollo’s only trick, though. It also has a twin digital tuner card and a Media Centre Remote, making it perfectly serviceable as a personal video recorder. There’s plenty of storage space for media as well, with a terabyte available to house movies, audio and games. This is split over two 500GB drives, leaving you the option of placing them in a RAID array. Should this prove inadequate, then there is room for internal expansion, and an eSATA port on the rear of the case for a fast external disc.

With a huge amount of choice in the desktop market, and increasingly powerful budget models, a machine needs to impress to justify a price tag that comes close to four figures with VAT taken into account. Luckily, the newest Apollo, like its predecessors, does just that. Managing to squeeze out even more performance, while retaining the looks and build quality, is exactly what this company needs to continue doing. If you regularly play games, but want a machine that looks more subtle than the orange-highlighted, carbon-fibre clad, blue LED-lit, specialty gaming rigs on the market, then this is the perfect choice.

Warranty

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Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 1,000
RAM capacity 4.00GB
Screen size 24.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core 2 Quad
CPU nominal frequency 2.33GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 775

Motherboard

Motherboard Asus P5K SE
Motherboard chipset Intel P35 Express
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2

Graphics card

3D performance setting High
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX+
DVI-I outputs 1
HDMI outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Hard disk

Capacity 500GB
Internal disk interface SATA 300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity 500GB
Hard disk 2 spindle speed 7,200RPM
Hard disk 3 make and model None
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model None
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model None
Optical disk 3 make and model None

Monitor

Monitor make and model LG W2452T
Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,200
Resolution 1920 x 1200
Pixel response time 5ms

Additional Peripherals

Speakers Logitech S220
Speaker type 2.1
Sound card Realtek HD audio
Peripherals DVB-T TV tuner

Case

Case format Midi tower

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
eSATA ports 1
Modem no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Logitech cordless desktop

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 105W
Peak power consumption 153W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.40
Office application benchmark score 1.17
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.61
Encoding application benchmark score 1.15
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.68
3D performance (crysis) low settings 34fps
3D performance setting High

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